New testing equipment at the state lab is going to help us with flu tracking this fall and dramatically speed up testing for Tuberculosis. The instrument called the Gene Xpert looks for DNA mutations – we can tell if a TB case is resistant to certain antibiotics. For instance, on specific mutation is a marker for rifampin resistance. It used to take weeks of culture growth to find that marker, now we can do it in a matter of hours. Working with County health partners, we hope to enhance surveillance to help get rid of TB .
The Gene Xpert, purchased with federal grant money, will also help us detect and differentiate Influenza A & B using nucleic acid (genetic material) amplification techniques so we know which strains of flu are circulating in the state as well as help us detect cases in institutional settings. Other uses for the Gene Xpert include surveillance for various hospital-acquired infections including Clostridium difficile, methicillin-resistant Staph aureus (MRSA), RSV and Metapneumoviruses.